Littleton Groom

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The Honourable
Sir Littleton Groom
KCMG
Littleton Groom.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Darling Downs
In office
14 September 1901 – 12 October 1929
Preceded by William Henry Groom
Succeeded by Arthur Morgan
In office
19 December 1931 – 6 November 1936
Preceded by Arthur Morgan
Succeeded by Arthur Fadden
6th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
13 January 1926 – 11 October 1929
Preceded by William Watt
Succeeded by Norman Makin
Personal details
Born (1867-04-22)22 April 1867
Toowoomba, Queensland
Died 6 November 1936(1936-11-06) (aged 69)
Canberra
Nationality Australian
Political party Protectionist (1901–09)
Fusion (1909–17)
Nationalist (1917–29)
Independent (1929–33)
UAP (1933–36)
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Lawyer

Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, KC KCMG (22 April 1867 – 6 November 1936) was an Australian Commonwealth Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Australia's 17th longest serving federal Parliamentarian (33 years and one month). He was a member of every non-Australian Labor Party ministry from 1905 to 1926. He was a liberal protectionist, who believed in the extension of federal powers, but became increasingly opposed to the Australian Labor Party's socialist agenda.

Early life[edit]

Groom was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, third son of William Henry Groom and his wife Grace, née Littleton. Groom was educated at Toowoomba North State School, Toowoomba Grammar School, where he was dux of the school and captain of both the football and cricket teams, and Ormond College, University of Melbourne where he won the 1890 University Scholarship at the Final Honours Examination in Laws. Groom then worked as a lawyer, Crown Prosecutor and acting judge. Groom married Jessie Bell in July 1894.[1] [2]

Political career[edit]

Groom won the first federal by-election in Australian history, as a Protectionist for the seat of Darling Downs, caused by the death of his father William Henry Groom. Littleton Groom was a strong Australian nationalist, supporting an extension of the Commonwealth's powers, including its industrial relations powers. As a result, he supported the Watson government in 1904. Groom was Minister of Home Affairs from July 1905 to October 1906 in the second Deakin Ministry and introduced legislation in 1906 to create a federal meteorological department and the creation of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) in 1916 was in large part a product of his attempt to create an Australian Department of Agriculture in 1906. In October 1906, Groom became Attorney General until the defeat of the Deakin government in November 1908. Groom passed legislation to defend the Harvester Judgment and successfully introduced legislation providing Commonwealth invalid and old age pensions.[1][2]

With the formation of the Fusion government in June 1909, Groom became External Affairs until its defeat in the 1910 election. He had carried legislation establishing the High Commission of Australia in London. After the 1910 election, he became a strong opponent of Labor and attacked its establishment of a government-owned Commonwealth Bank and its attempt to gain the power to control monopolies. He was Trade and Customs in the Cook Ministry from June 1913 to September 1914.[2]

Nationalist government[edit]

Groom was Vice-President of the Executive Council in Hughes's national government from November 1917 to March 1918 and Works and Railways from March 1918 to December 1921. Groom encouraged railway development and was involved in accelerating the construction of Canberra. In December 1921 he became Attorney-General again. He was also Minister for Trade and Customs and Minister for Health in May and June 1924, following Austin Chapman's resignation on grounds of ill health. Groom led the 1924 Australian delegation to the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva and chaired a committee, which formulated a protocol to establish a system of international arbitration and later voted to support its protocol despite an instruction to abstain. Groom involved himself in attempts to deport "foreign" agitators, but due to his poor handling of these and other matters, he was obliged to resign in December 1925.[1][2]

Speaker[edit]

In return for his resignation, Groom was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives and presided from January 1926 to 1929, when he helped oversee the move of federal Parliament from Melbourne to the newly constructed capital Canberra but his refusal to use his casting vote as speaker on a bill that would remove the Commonwealth from most of its involvement in conciliation and arbitration led to the collapse of the Bruce government and the 1929 election. This was motivated partly by his views on the obligations of an independent speaker, but he also disliked the bill and he still resented his forced resignation in 1925. The Nationalists expelled him from the party, forcing him to run for reelection as an independent. In a bitter campaign, Groom was eliminated on the first count, making him the first serving Speaker to lose his own seat at an election.[2][3]

Groom returned to his legal practice in Brisbane; he was re-elected in 1931 election as an Independent and he joined the United Australia Party in August 1933. From 1932 to 1936 he was chairman of the Bankruptcy Legislation Committee and in earlier years he also acted on various royal commissions and select committees. He died in Canberra of cerebro-vascular disease. Groom was survived by his wife and one of their two daughters.[1][2]

Groom was joint author with Sir John Quick of the Judicial Power of the Commonwealth in 1904 and he was part author of various Queensland legal publications. A member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church, Groom was knighted in January 1924 for his services to politics. In 1984 the Division of Groom was named in his honour and he is commemorated by a number of features in Toowoomba, including Groom Park.[1][2]

Groom's elder brother, Henry Littleton Groom, was a long serving member of the Queensland Legislative Council.[1]

After his death, Groom bequeathed many of the books from his personal library to the Canberra University College Library (which would become the Australian National University's Chifley Library) including the famed 'The Rise of the Dutch Republic' by J.L. Motley.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Serle, Percival. "Groom, Sir Littleton Ernest (1867–1936)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Carment, David (1983). "Groom, Sir Littleton Ernest (1867–1936)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  3. ^ Carr, Adam (2008). "Australian Election Archive". Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Dugald Thomson
Minister for Home Affairs
1905–1906
Succeeded by
Thomas Ewing
Preceded by
Isaac Isaacs
Attorney-General of Australia
1906–1908
Succeeded by
Billy Hughes
Preceded by
Lee Batchelor
Minister for External Affairs
1909–1910
Succeeded by
Lee Batchelor
Preceded by
Frank Tudor
Minister for Trade and Customs
1913–1914
Succeeded by
Frank Tudor
Preceded by
Edward Millen
Vice-President of the Executive Council
1917–1918
Succeeded by
Edward Russell
Preceded by
William Watt
Minister for Works and Railways
1918–1921
Succeeded by
Richard Foster
Preceded by
Billy Hughes
Attorney-General of Australia
1921–1925
Succeeded by
John Latham
Preceded by
Austin Chapman
Minister for Trade and Customs
Minister for Health

1924
Succeeded by
Herbert Pratten
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
William Watt
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
1926–1929
Succeeded by
Norman Makin
Preceded by
William Henry Groom
Member for Darling Downs
1901–1929
Succeeded by
Arthur Morgan
Preceded by
Arthur Morgan
Member for Darling Downs
1931–1936
Succeeded by
Arthur Fadden